Super Eagles Looking to Soar Again under Finidi George

Last month brought with it the news that former Super Eagles winger Finidi George had been given the reins of the National team for the foreseeable future. The former Ajax, Real Betis, and Ipswich Town star replaces Jose Peseiro after a positive outing at the just concluded AFCON and has been tasked with turning around what has been an underwhelming start to the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign. Two draws in their opening two games mean the Super Eagles have it all to do to make it to football’s global showpiece in the USA, Mexico, and Canada. 


On the surface it may seem like a flashy appointment to appeal to the football-crazy populace, something similar to the late Diego Maradona’s appointment as Argentina coach in 2008; a legendary ex-international coming in to uplift the team with more of his footballing aura and not any real tactical acumen. That could not be further from the truth, however, as Finidi has a wealth of coaching experience as Peseiro’s number 2 and also as manager of Enyimba, with whom he won the 2023 NPFL title.


One thing that may have caught the eye of the NFF is Finidi’s tactical approach to games. A student of the Ajax school of football, he likes his teams to play on the front foot, pressing aggressively from the front and being effective in transitions. This approach was none the more evident than in the 2-1 friendly triumph over bitter rivals Ghana in March. A flowing 10-pass move from one end of the pitch to the other was capped off by a fine Ademola Lookman finish for Nigeria’s winner. This was a far cry from the more pragmatic and conservative tactical setup of his predecessor Peseiro.



The Portuguese coach’s formation of choice was a rigid 5-3-2, which no doubt earned the Super Eagles their best AFCON finish in 11 years but he came up short at the final hurdle when a more positive approach would have bore much more fruit. Finidi’s more fluid 3-4-3 formation aims to improve chance creation on a game-by-game basis and bring about more control in high-pressure fixtures.


Another angle on his appointment may be his affinity towards local league talent, as he knows the terrain all too well. The age-long “Home-based Eagles vs Foreign Eagles” debate may still be rumbling on but the former wing wizard would do well to find the right blend just as the late great Stephen Keshi did in 2013.


Finidi’s first competitive games at the helm couldn’t be any trickier as he plays host to the Bafana Bafana of South Africa before a trip to neighbors Benin Republic in a World Cup qualifying double-header with both games essentially being must-win encounters.



It’s safe to say that the honeymoon period is already over for the new Super Eagles gaffer and that the real grind begins next month with those two crunch qualifiers. 


Time to get to work.


By: Edward Okaro / @KingArinze

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Adam Davy – EMPICS / PA Images